September is National Recovery Works Month

By Hugh Gray - Contributing Columnist

During the coming month of September, Westview encourages everyone to celebrate the victories of those people who have overcome stigma, denial, and other barriers to treatment and have taken their own brave steps into the journey of recovery.

As Newberry’s local authority on substance abuse treatment and prevention, Westview Behavioral Health Services joins treatment providers across the nation to designate September as Recovery Month. As a result their commitment to recovery, our entire community is healthier and more productive.

Problems associated with the use of alcohol and other drugs affect all Newberrians. They cross all social and geographic boundaries, extending from Little Mountain to Kinards to Whitmire. These problems impact people of all ages and both genders, as well as from all ethnic backgrounds and socioeconomic levels.

The good news is that more and more people are seeking help for the disease of addiction and, as a result, have seen the benefits of treatment and recovery.

However, this field has long been plagued by many myths and much misinformation about the disease of addiction, as well as about the various treatment programs available for those who are suffering from the disease. In an attempt to dispel some of these many myths and misconceptions, Westview and other alcohol and drug abuse treatment providers are celebrating “National Recovery Month” throughout September to let the public know that Recovery Works!

Addiction to alcohol and other drugs is not a condition that has a known “cure.” However, there is overwhelming evidence that the disease process can be arrested with treatment.

Because so many people use alcohol and other drugs without ever becoming addicted (although they may experience a variety of problems because of their use), our society has tended to view problem use as an individual weakness. These facts and myths combine to create misconceptions about addiction that often serve as barriers to individuals and families who desperately need help.

The following are some of the more damaging of these myths:

MYTH: Addiction is a bad habit, the result of moral weakness and overindulgence.

FACT: Addiction is a chronic, life-threatening, relapsing, and often fatal disease that (like hypertension or diabetes) has roots in genetic susceptibility, social circumstances, and personal behavior.

MYTH: If an alcoholic or addict has enough willpower, he or she can stop using at any time.

FACT: Individuals who are addicted to alcohol or other drugs cannot simply stop using, no matter how strong their inner resolve, any more than one who is diabetic can “will” his blood sugar to stabilize. The physical dependence on alcohol or some other drug overtakes a person’s decision-making ability. It is through intervention, safe physical withdrawal from the chemical, and an individualized treatment regimen that individuals obtain the life skills needed to end their self-defeating behaviors and begin a recovery process.

MYTH: The only person an addict hurts is himself.

FACT: Unfortunately, individuals who are experiencing problems associated with their use of alcohol and other drugs hurt far more people than themselves. In addition to causing problems for their friends and loved ones who are directly affected by their actions, abusers cost Newberry County approximately 22 million in economic costs. These costs are reflected in increased prices for all goods and services because abusers are absent from work more often and are less productive when they are there. Higher taxes for additional police and jails are needed to deal with abusers. Property losses due to car crashes, thefts for drug money, and higher health care costs are caused by abusers who use the health care system more extensively than do non-abusers.

All these costs are not irreversible, however. Many people and programs in South Carolina dedicate themselves to reducing the social and economic costs of addiction. Westview Behavioral Health Services provides our county with a wide range of excellent treatment programs both outpatient and inpatient. Some individuals have found their recovery through self-help programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous and now want to help other alcoholics and other drug addicts discover the joys of recovery.

The important thing to remember is that help is available! If you or a loved one would like to talk, call Westview at 276-5690. And watch for more events celebrating recovery!

By Hugh Gray

Contributing Columnist

Hugh Gray is the executive director at Westview Behavioral Health Services and can be reached at 803-276-5690.

Hugh Gray is the executive director at Westview Behavioral Health Services and can be reached at 803-276-5690.

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